And the evidence supplied by the ABPI is accompanied by a warning that a national strategy for key academic subjects must replace the current situation where local university finance, and funding councils that do not acknowledge industry's requirements, determine the future of education.
As well as employing science graduates in its £9 million-a-day programme of researching and developing new medicines, the pharmaceutical sector is also a significant supporter of academic research. As such, it is well placed to provide expert opinion to the inquiry.
The ABPI's evidence shows that:
Science departments are increasingly vulnerable to closure as universities struggle to meet financial targets.
The quality of graduates is deteriorating from all but the leading universities, and the current funding situation means that this can only accelerate in the future. There is particular concern over the supply of chemists and in vivo pharmacologists.
In recent years, fewer doctors are being trained in clinical pharmacology. Clinical pharmacologists have a vital role in the safety testing of new medicines.
The dramatic drop in the number of teachers holding degrees in chemistry and physics in schools will inevitably lead to a decline in the number of pupils taking science courses at university, especially as many of the existing qualified teachers are nearing retirement age.
The sad truth is that the UK pharmaceutical industry is rapidly becoming dependant on scientists who have trained abroad. Given that the strength of the science base in this country has been one of the major reasons why so many pharmaceutical companies have decided to locate their businesses here, this is a matter for grave concern," said Dr Philip Wright, Director of Science and Technology at the ABPI.
For too long, financial imperatives, driven by the Government's determination to expand higher education, have driven individual universities to make decisions on which courses to promote and which to cease. This means that the overall needs of British industry are not being properly taken into account.
A pool of quality science talent should be created, not just to enter industry, but also to sustain academia and to provide the qualified teachers who can encourage pupils to pursue science in higher education.
For further information, please contact: ABPI Press Office 020 7747 1410